Over Fluorescent Boxes? Spark Kitchen Joy With LED Lighting Upgrades

If your kitchen is still illuminated by those big, bulky fluorescent lighting boxes, it’s time for an upgrade. Outdated fluorescent fixtures waste energy and don’t do your kitchen’s style any favors. Replacing them with slim, energy-efficient LED lighting can instantly modernize the space while saving money long-term.

Beyond choosing new energy-saving lights, we’ll also explore quick DIY enhancements to maximize brightness from your shiny new LEDs.

Dated Fluorescent Kitchen Lighting: Issues and Downsides

Fluorescent kitchen lighting boxes were very common in the 70s and 80s. These days, the large plastic panels full of tube lighting look outdated and rob kitchens of a modern, stylish appearance.

Aside from clashing aesthetically in contemporary kitchen designs, fluorescent lights also come with functional downsides:

ideas for replacing fluorescent lighting boxes in kitchen
  • Buzzing noises and annoying flickering
  • Waste energy and money due to inefficiency
  • Harsh, cold light that exacerbates unappealing kitchen colors
  • Frequent need to replace dead fluorescent tubes

If your kitchen still relies on fluorescent boxes and tubes for overall lighting, it’s likely suffering from a combination of these undesirable traits. Even still functional fluorescent fixtures make kitchens appear stuck in the past visually.

Planning Your Kitchen Lighting Upgrade

As with any kitchen remodel project, smart planning is key to choosing the best new energy-efficient LED lighting. Before picking out fancy new fixtures, analyze how your kitchen is currently used along with priorities for an enhanced illuminated space.

Set Lighting Goals and Requirements

Consider the activities typically done in the kitchen and what sort of lighting would optimize them. Most kitchens need a combination of:

  • Ambient lighting – Overall general illumination
  • Task lighting – Bright focused light over key work areas
  • Accent lighting – Draws attention to architectural or decorative features

Creating a lighting layout fulfilling all three goals will likely require multiple new LED fixture types suited to each purpose.

Beyond functionality, assess aesthetic and sustainability goals for new energy-efficient kitchen lighting. Seek out fixture styles aligning with your design vision. Prioritize LED bulbs or tubes with long lifespans and low electricity use to save money over time. Also decide whether to tackle replacements as a DIY project or hire an electrician for proper installation.

LED Fixture Options to Replace Fluorescents

Many LED lighting options exist to transform kitchens still relying on old fluorescent boxes. Consider these popular energizing upgrades to create a brighter, more inviting cooking space:

  • Recessed/can lighting – Ambient and task illumination inserted into the ceiling
  • Under cabinet LED strips – Task lighting for key countertop work zones
  • Track lighting – Flexible spotlights to highlight tasks or decor
  • Pendant lights – Decorative fixtures suspended over islands or sinks
  • Flush mount ceiling LEDs – Direct replacement for fluorescent box panels

Later sections provide more details on installing these specific energy-saving LED kitchen lighting solutions.

Best LED Lighting Ideas for Kitchen Fluorescent Box Replacements

With so many LED lighting options available today, deciding what to install can feel overwhelming. But assessing your kitchen’s needs and design goals makes it easier to select fixtures that will provide better ambiance and utility.

These popular LED lighting ideas can help transform kitchens still relying on outdated fluorescent boxes:

Recessed or Can Lighting Retrofits

Recessed downlight cans installed into the kitchen ceiling are an LED upgrade staple. These ambient lighting circles can replace fluorescents as the kitchen’s primary light source.

Cutting openings to add recessed lighting means hiring an electrician for installation in most cases. But the results are worth the expense – recessed LED cans provide even, shadow-free illumination perfect for overall lighting.

Opt for adjustable trim models or add separate LED track heads to create task lighting over key work zones. Consider warm white 2700K cans over sinks, islands and eating areas for a welcoming vibe. Use bright 5000K daylight cans over food prep and cooking surfaces.

DIY Under Cabinet LED Lighting

Installing LED lighting strips underneath wall-mounted cabinets is an easy, affordable DIY upgrade for dated fluorescents. Under cabinet lighting provides direct illumination ideal for food prep tasks.

LED under cabinet lighting kits come with everything needed for installation. Simply secure the ultra-slim strips flush beneath cabinets and plug into an outlet. Position the lights to spotlight major kitchen work zones like islands, stoves, and sinks.

Task lighting these high-traffic areas directly makes cooking and meal cleanup much easier. No electrician or wiring needed!

Flexible LED Track Lighting

Track lighting offers a modern, adaptable lighting approach perfect for replacing fluorescent kitchen boxes. Kits with LED track rails and adjustable spotlights are readily available.

DIYers can install basic plug-in track systems themselves to spotlight tasks or decor. Choose warmer lights over dining spaces and bright, cool white spotlights over food preparation zones. Aim spotlights based on kitchen activities and traffic flows.

Pay a bit more for hardwired track lighting installation by an electrician and the system can function as ambient lighting too. Position rails parallel to countertops or perpendicular to islands depending on ceiling layout.

Island Pendant Lights

Hanging glass pendant lights introduce appealing style while providing task illumination over kitchen islands. Mini-pendants spaced evenly also replace boxy fluorescents well for primary lighting.

For islands, allow 24-30 inches between pendant fixtures for optimal coverage. Semi-flushmount styles also bring great transitional flair. Make sure cords reach outlets or install hardwired pendant lighting.

Glass pendants contain and softly diffuse LED bulbs. They make islands more usable by directing light right to the surface below. The transparency provides a lighter, more open feel as well.

Update All Fixtures to Flush Mount LEDs

If your kitchen still relies on fluorescent panel boxes for overall lighting, the most direct replacement comes from flush mount LED fixtures.

Fluorescent kitchen ceiling lights can be swapped out easily for similarly-shaped flush mount panels hosting LEDs instead of tubes. This leaves ceiling electrical boxes, wires, and openings untouched.

Flush mount LEDs distribute ambient illumination evenly. A flush mount style matched to the dimensions of the existing fluorescent boxes you’re replacing simplifies the lighting upgrade. It’s one of the most budget-friendly options too!

Beyond New Fixtures: Enhancements for Turning Up the Lights

Merely replacing fluorescent kitchen boxes with LED lighting often makes a huge difference. But taking extra steps to maximize brightness and visual appeal completes the lighting transformation.

If your budget allows, also install one or more of these enhancements along with new energy-efficient LED fixtures:

  • Add dimmer switches to control light levels
  • Install reflective surfaces like glossy backsplashes
  • Replace recessed trims with adjustable gimbal models
  • Paint ceiling and upper cabinets white to bounce around light

Strategically placed mirrors also introduce more perceived brightness by reflecting and amplifying incoming light. For kitchen islands, glass pendant shades or reflective countertop materials like quartz amplify illumination as well.

All these ancillary upgrades work together with your new LED lighting to help eradicate any remaining shadows or dark pockets not fully addressed by new fixtures alone.

Out with the old, in with the new! Ditching the dated fluorescents leaves kitchens brighter, more stylish spaces people want to spend time enjoying.

Here’s a quick recap of the many upside to installing energy-efficient LED lighting instead of those outdated fluorescent boxes:

  • Modern lighting fixtures align better with contemporary kitchen design trends
  • Long-lasting, energy sipping LEDs save money over time
  • Fewer headaches dealing with flickering tubes requiring frequent replacement
  • New layering of ambient, task and accent lighting improves functionality
  • DIY-friendly LED upgrades like under cabinet lights install quicker

Dreary, cold fluorescent kitchen lighting had its time. Now with so many LED lighting options providing visual warmth and energy savings, make the switch in 2023!

Any kitchen can easily join the LED lighting revolution. Start by assessing your space’s lighting needs along with style goals. Review the transformer LED fixture and enhancement ideas above to develop a customized plan catered specifically to how you utilize the kitchen.

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